o·pos·sum (ə-pŏsəm, pŏsəm)
n. pl. opossum or o·pos·sums
1. Any of various nocturnal, usually arboreal marsupials of the family Didelphidae of the Americas, especially Didelphis virginiana of North and Central America, having a thick coat, a long snout, and a long prehensile tail. See Note at tater.
2. A possum of Australia and adjacent islands.
(click for a larger image)opossum
adult female opossum, Didelphis virginiana, transporting offspring on her back
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.